Soccer: Wellington favourite for Paraguay match

By Terry Maddaford

The All Whites will play Paraguay in a rematch of their World Cup battle but where the match, which comes with a hefty price tag, will be played and whether there will be a second international in Fifa's October window remains up in the air.

New Zealand Football chief executive Michael Glading last night confirmed that the game against the World Cup quarter-finalists and Fifa's 16th-ranked team will be played on October 12.

He cannot say at which stadium the battle of the two teams, who drew 0-0 in their final group match in South Africa, will take place. The match will cost the national body in excess of $500,000 to promote.

"We have worked hard, very hard, to get Paraguay across the line," said Glading.

"It followed discussions with the president of the Paraguay federation when I was told [by Oceania general secretary Tai Nicholas] in South Africa that the Paraguayans were talking with Australia about a possible fixture in October.

"Now we have been able to dovetail in with the Australians, who will play Paraguay in Sydney on October 9.

"It has been a blessing we have been able to do it this way given the costs. In future it might be, given our current standing, we will again be able to link into a two-game deal like this."

Glading had hoped a second game, against a second South American opponent, could have been factored in the same timeframe but Australia said they were only interested in one game in this window.

NZF is still keen to pursue a second game - which would have to be played before the Paraguay fixture - as it is already committed to bringing the entire World Cup squad back to New Zealand.

"Ricki Herbert has already said he will bring together all the players who were in South Africa - apart from James Bannatyne and Andy Barron, who have since announced their retirements (but will get tickets for whatever games we play) - so it would be in everyone's best interest to play a second game," said Glading.

On the question of where the game(s) will be played, Glading remained coy.

"Contractually we have certain obligations. If the game was to be played in Auckland it would be at North Harbour Stadium," he said.

"But they can only seat 19,000 and we need more than that to break even. This is the most expensive game we have ever put on so we have to consider all options."

Wellington's Westpac Stadium remains a favourite but Glading is not ruling out Waikato Stadium and, if there is a second game, AMI Stadium in Christchurch, which is not available on October 12, is a possibility.

Glading said he and his board, who have yet to receive their World Cup handout from Fifa, were adamant that even if it was only a break-even exercise, they owed it to the public to do it.

"The first thing we have to do is get the venue settled and then get a television network on side," said Glading. "I am hopeful there will be real interest ... in light of the viewing figures from the World Cup."

- NZ Herald

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